Sunday, January 22, 2012

Part two, A statement of Hope

Part one ( Click here) is my Mission preview for my then 7 year old…7 years ago. I did one for 2 years, 7 years and 15 years. MY mission preview then, was centered around my son understanding his social world, how to navigate friends and understand other perspectives. When I wrote this mission preview, he was attending a school for children on the spectrum. He had gone there the year before because his behaviors had gotten to where his placement had to change, because what I knew at the time, was not a good match. There were times when his aid would need to restrain him..and this was my wake up call. I needed to do something ELSE for him. The typical route at the time, behavioral conditioning, was not giving him the long term tools he needed…he had lots of skills, but not much else.

As I read over my old previews, I could only say .... mission statement fulfilled. I have blogs about the how to, and my story…and what is RDI click here so I wanted to make this post more about celebrating the ability to understand friendships…and understanding the importance of thinking ahead to *get back* what our kids need. A celebration of not only my son overcoming the obstacles that Autism presents, but the many other children and families who are in this journey... It is quite a journey that we, as parents can instantly relate too with one another! 

So why do I think a mission preview is important in this process? For me, it kept me focused on my goals for my kids. There are short term goals and long term goals…and without a mission…I was getting caught up in the reaction of all the short term issues. I was trying to *get* things to happen, or fix a behavior. Of course necessary, but sometimes thinking long term helped take me out of reaction mode and into proactive mode. I started to look at what my kids needed, as what was missing instead of how to put a band-aid on what they were *doing* at the time.

So as I took my 7 almost 8 year old on a new journey with Relationship Development Intervention, I was able to renew my mindset on what we, as a family needed to achieve. Going through those stages within RDI, each one filling in crucial developmental milestones, worked on both sets of goals, and both kinds of intelligence here…which led my son to the place where he is, a place where he can be in that group of teens, nominated on the snow court.

As I lay awake that night, thinking, I remembered all that the past *inflicted* upon me. 11 years ago Autism was not as common, and in some ways we have come a long way and others we are still stuck in the same old same old. What would have happened if we did not make that change when he was 7? I definitely know we would not be here…I would not be watching him with his friends, as they come over, as he goes over their house… as he attends dances, and is part of the student council. All that my son is doing now, 7 years ago, I was not sure he could get there. Like any mom, I wanted so much for my son to understand relationships. We had a good relationship, but out in the social world, so much MORE is needed in understanding. 14 and 15 year olds do not compensate...they expect you to be on equal playing ground. Thinking ahead to get back would be crucial! Instead of me trying to give him social skills to try and teach him every possible way to handle a conversation ( an impossible task), I instead learned that I needed to address things like resilience, perspective, and true meaningful communication, which was just the beginning. To be able to hold his own with friendships and relationships, communication skills and being able to take a chance are two must haves, along with knowing how to help the other person know we are interested in what they are saying .all the while insuring that our gaze to them shows us this. Yikes, where to start. Friendships do not start in a bubble. Infants are learning resilience which are the building blocks to trust, then grasping the back and forth of communication. Two years olds are already learning how to blend their way of seeing things with our way…which is why it’s called the terrible twos. The ability to understand friendships are grounded back …in development. I had to go back and give my sons that second chance at mastering this, before we could make any real progress.

Maybe your mission preview would read differently. No two are alike…but I encourage you to write it on paper. Visualize where your child needs to be in 2 years, 7 years, 15 years. Then base your goals on what your mission is for your child. This will prevent you looking at your 20 year old …wondering where the time went, faced with the hard truth that skills got them through school…but now what? Start addressing the now what?....NOW! Its never too early nor too late to restore your child’s developmental path to dynamic intelligence!

For more on friendships- Click here

More of my story is here

Saturday, January 21, 2012

A mission statement of hope….first believing, then seeing

Today,  since we got snow and Im sitting here sipping coffee,  I figured I would share one of the highlights from early December...better late then never !
Last month,  my son, who is now 14 told me that I was allowed to come to the snow dance at school ( He is a freshman in high school) and take pictures.  Anyone with  a 14 year old understands the term allowed.  He told me that all the parents would be there at 9 to take pictures of the snow king crowning ( sort of like homecoming).  Of course I was like ok…then he mentioned to me that he is in the snow court so I might want to get there  alittle earlier.  My response was…uh, what?  He stares at me and says, Yeah Im in the snow court and walks away.  So as I’m standing there, frozen, watching him walk upstairs as if it is no big deal,  my first thought is, well,  ok  Im not sure how this whole snow king thing works so I guess Ill find out when I go.

3 days later the snow dance has arrived,  and Im  at a friend’s house  ( a ball party).  I knew I would need to leave at 9 to run to the school,  then come back to resume Moms night out. As I am driving to the school I get a call from my son,  who wants to know where I am.  It is 3 minutes to 9 ( gosh, what does he think, I’m always late or something??  J)  So I park,  run in and as I enter the hallway,  he is in the middle of a group of 10 kids,  5 boys and 5 girls, getting various pictures taken,  They are all wearing a sash.   I take a picture of them all together, just in time for them to line up for the DJ to start calling their names as couples…as nominees for the snow king.  I walk into the dance floor…turn around and everything is going in slow motion.  The DJ starts to announce the nominees…and each time the boy and girl walk through the doors and the crowd of kids cheer.  The DJ announce my son with the young lady nominee,  and he walks through the line as the kids cheer.  Im only able to get a picture of the end as there are just so many teenagers blogging my view  ( move it Mom here trying to take  a picture!!  Geez)

They all walk up to the stage and are given flowers..and told to open the card and the card says whether they won king and queen or not.  I watch and these 10 teens open their cards,  and the crowd cheers as two come forward excited that they won.  No,  my son did not win…but I still could not take my eyes off him.  He then came over to me,  I got a few pictures of him with his nominees and also with his date to the dance,  and then I left.  I got into the car and just sat there,  trying to compose myself as I was heading back to my party.  I did, and returned, and then came home and stayed up all night…pretty much sitting by the computer or on the couch.   At some points I wept,  because as I could not sleep,  his entire childhood up to this point flashed before my eyes. I just kept coming back to the night,  where his peers/classmates choose 5 boys to represent the class,  5 boys who were the most popular…and my son was one of them.  Now typically this is just a general feel good moment for any Parent,  but to me, and our family this moment is a significant milestone…  because around the age of 7, I wrote a mission preview for my son as part of an assignment … with my RDI consultant ( we were just starting RDI with my son at the time) A mission preview is also a concept listed in the book, 7 habits of highly effective people,  under, habit 2, begin with the end in mind.  Here it is-

2. Intermediate-Term Mission Preview: 7 years from now

14 years old- Sleepover

N knocks on the door of the youth group leaders house. S opens the door and is thrilled to see N was able to make it.

" Hey guys, I'm here, let the party begin" utters N as he makes his way over to the pool table. He instantly begins talking to a few of his friends about the night before and how a bunch of them got together and went to the hockey court to play a few games. They begin to play pool and N is one of the last three kids playing. He misses a ball and with that laughs and walks over to some of his friends. "Did you see that new movie yet N?" remarks one of his friends. "No, not yet," says N, "hey lets get a group together next weekend and go see it." They all agree. N notices a more quiet boy sitting around the group and also asks him about going to the movies. They start a conversation and N finds out that this boy just started coming out to church. He brings him into the group and makes him feel welcome. At this point the boys gather around for a lesson from. S. S talks about the pressures of approaching the teenage years and N and his friends have a great conversation with S about the challenges they face in their social life. S also introduces the new boy.

N has already met so and so and is helping him feel right at home."S comments" "I see that
but for anyone who has not gotten the chance to introduce yourself, make sure you do! They boys stay up till the wee hours of the morning eating and talking about everything boys talk about!